Chuck Wolfe outlines the importance of soundscapes to cities past, present and future, and describes efforts to both document urban sounds and use sound as a planning tool.
Using examples from around the world, Wolfe traces the soundscape movement and sound-based urban initiatives, which appear both as prospective planning tools and as historical, documentary exercises to inform an urban past.
Soundscape proponents argue for assistance from the aural as well as the visual, in order to facilitate the identity of a place through careful, qualitative attention to how it sounds. Similarly, scholars have focused on the recreation of urban sounds to aid in the understanding of historic urban experiences, including the Berlin National Museums’ exhibition about the ancient city of Pergamon, where sounds accompany a panoramic reconstruction.
“Whether directed to shaping the future soundscape or understanding past examples, one thing is clear. Sight and sound both play roles in understanding cities, and the role of sound is ripe for further exploration.”